High Court of Justice 370.
(photo credit: yonah jeremy bob)
Former Supreme Court justice Eliezer Rivlin, the representative for public complaints against judges, on Tuesday presented his 2013 annual report, which noted a reduction from 13 percent to 9% in complaints against judges that were found to be valid.
A valid complaint indicates that the judge made one of a variety of possible errors.
Though Rivlin presented the report, he only recently took office and much of the report was completed by his predecessor, retired Supreme Court justice Eliezer Goldberg.
Rivlin personally presented the report to Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and the Justice Ministry distributed the report to the press.
After last year’s report saw a spike on valid complaints at the same time as Grunis was being accused of having allegedly protected some unfit judges from being removed from the bench, this year’s report may give Grunis a boost against such criticism.
The complaints report said that in 2013, 882 complaints were filed, down from 930 the year before, and only 85 were found to be valid, as opposed to 101 the year before.
One negative in the report was that 46% of the valid complaints related to delays and the dragging out of the proceedings, as compared to only 36% in 2012.
Other categories of valid complaints were 25% for deficiencies in procedure, 21% for unbecoming conduct and 8% for offended sensibilities of natural justice.
Thirty-three percent of the total complaints – 226 in total – were against magistrate court judges, 153 against family court judges, with 119 against district court judges and 114 against small claims court judges.
Examples the report gave of judicial misconduct included where a lawyer “lost control” and “started up” with the judge in a personal way, with the judge returning fire in a personal way.
The report said that judges must maintain a cool head and rise above losing their temper, even when parties before them have crossed the line.
One judge, out of frustration with difficult parties, said, “I’m pretty sick of you. The hearing is closed.”
The report said that judges are never allowed to use such language regarding parties before them.
One female judge expressed frustration with the failure of two female parties to resolve certain issues by saying, “Next thing you know you will put on bikinis and open up a mud hole” to jump into.
Mentioning several other derogatory statements from the female judge, the report called the conduct unbecoming.